I have not yet read enough Nora Ephron to know whether she ever got from

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

through on to

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

Maybe she did. Her later movies had happy endings, and reportedly her last marriage was very happy, but it’s not clear to me if she ever liked herself. I hope so.

The title of her first book of essays, Crazy Salad, is from Yeats’s A Prayer for my Daughter, in the verse that follows the first one above. On the other hand, I think the verse I quote is closest to the feeling of that book, for me. I read it when I was maybe 9 or 11, from my parents’ bookshelf and it may have been the first explicitly feminist book I ever read. (It didn’t come as a shock; I was raised feminist from the cradle.) As I remarked somewhere yesterday, when your recent reading history includes Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret?, Ephron’s views on breasts follow very naturally. 9In fact, I suspect I read that essay, which I remember as being early in the book, when I was 9 and didn’t get through the rest of it until a bit later.) I think I was surprised to learn that grown women still thought about them in the same way.

That book may well have been where I first encountered Dorothy Parker; I don’t know where I read her poems after that, there being no internet in those far-gone days, but that was another surprise – that a woman so fabulous could still be yet so insecure. Adults in books were mostly more confident, at least by the time they were really adults (I’d read Gone with the Wind around then, and The Thorn Birds, but you couldn’t really consider Scarlet or Maggie to be adult, early in those books). So in a way, Ephron and Parker may have introduced me to the whole idea of adult female angst and insecurity.

On the other hand, the thing that surprised me most about Crazy Salad was that the essays in it had originally appeared in Esquire.So that was a powerful feminist message to me: pop culture, and even pop culture aimed at men, cared about this feminist stuff and how women think when about being women. It was like finding that your neighborhood is actually a quirky beloved favorite place for lots of interesting people, even if not everyone knows about it, and not just a ghetto where like-minded people are penned in. I knew women’s issues mattered to me; here was oproof that they mattered to cool and brilliant women, and to enough men to sell maagzines (no way of knowing if Esquire’s readers were either cool or brilliant, but they were clearly at least smart enough to appreciate Ephron, a good start.

Unfortunately, Crazy Salad is not available as an e-book. Instead, I’ve bought the Kindle version of I hate My Neck. I got that one because it sounds liker to my current life stage than her last book, I remember Nothing. (I don’t hate my neck. It’s got a couple lines on it, and I am fine with that. I’m not thrilled with my chin, but that’s a bone structure issue – there isn’t enough of it, basically – and has nothing to do with aging.) i am curious to see what surprises I’ll find in this one. I hope that despite her hatrd of aging, Ephron did “return to that radical innocence” and learn to be self-delighting.